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Elevate Your Cocktail Repertoire

Two masters of mixology on choosing the perfect drink to serve at your next gathering

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When hosting guests, the thought of mixing cocktails for all can be a bit intimidating. How do you handle friends who are scared of unknown spirits or squeamish about certain flavors? It can be tempting to just pop open a bottle of wine or let your guests fend for themselves with a few of your half-empty bottles of liquor, Coca Cola and tonic. At a gathering of real adults, though, nothing is classier than an elegant bar cart or cocktail station where guests can procure a drink that is both tasty and perhaps an unexpected departure from the typical.

When selecting a cocktail to serve, “You can’t cater to everybody,” bartender extraordinaire Pamela Wiznitzer told me. What you can do, however, is choose something that works for both the time of day of your gathering and the time of year it is. “I guess a lot of things are very weather dependent. It’s all situational. So you know, if you’re hosting a five hour long dinner where it’s the middle of the wintertime, you’re not going to start off the meal with a strawberry blackberry margarita,” she said. 

Wiznitzer is one of over 30 bartenders who contributed recipes to St. Germain brand ambassador Camille Ralph Vidal’s new cocktail book How to Drink French Fluently, which breaks down recipes by time of day, making it handy for party planning purposes. Hosting a birthday brunch or daytime summer barbecue? Opt for something light, refreshing and perhaps bubbly. An evening cocktail party? Start things off with a low-proof aperitif. 

In chatting with Vidal and Wiznitzer, both women cited the St. Germain cocktail as the most versatile recipe in the book—explaining that they serve it at pretty much any time. “Sparkling wine, St. Germain and seltzer water,” says Wiznitzer, adding that for a winter gathering in particular, “Maybe you infuse the water ahead of time with some cinnamon so you’re adding a little bit of spice notes with the floral. Ways like that, you can incorporate the season. Like apples and pears, you can use those fruits instead of berries which aren’t really in season.”

For all-day inspiration, click through the gallery of recipes from How to Drink French Fluently.

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